Court stops Wadia's rave party, Govt acts dubious

| 22 December 1999 23:03 IST

The ten-day long biggest non-stop millennium festival of the raves in Goa from all over the world, which expects a crowd of 25,000 raves every day, is in trouble. It was to start tonight with a full moon, to be stopped only with a sunrise on 2 January 2000.

While the state government is dilly-dallying over the immoral activities feared to be carried out at the mega-bash, the high court today sought an undertaking from the organisers that they would not host the party or any other activity there without court's permission.

Around 70,000 sq mts of beachside government land in Anjuna, surrounding the restaurant 'Paradiso de Anjuna', has been encroached upon by its contractor Norman Azvedo and Jeh Wadia, son of a Bombay-based business tycoon Nusli Wadia, to hold the event.

Wadia has in fact been organising series of rave parties here for the 'lovers' of techno music like jungle, acid and Goa Trance for the last three years. He is the main promoter of the 10-day millennium bash, for which he has illegally occupied the government land.

"Name your poison and you'll find it here", says a special INTERNT website created for 'Goa 2000 : The Millennium Festival', giving all details of the mega bash at the click of anjuna.com

"Nobody can take us for granted", warned Victoria Fernandes, Goa's tourism minister, when journalists met her on Tuesday late evening. Though demolition operation had begun today morning to take over the government land, it was stopped within an hour after the officials received a wireless message from the chief minister in this regard.

In fact six persons including two ladies and Nash Wadia, Jeh's brother, were also arrested by the policemen for restraining the government servants from carrying on their duty. They were released after the demolition was stopped.

While ordering demolition of all the structures built illegally in the government-owned land, the tourism minister had also told the journalists her intention to temporarily close down Paradiso de Anjuna, the department-owned restaurant leased out to Azavedo, refusing extension of the three-year lease that expired in September.

The issue has been brought to light by Gomantak Times, a local English daily, publishing photographs of the illegalities carried out for the bash. Peter de Souza, the journalist who exposed the story, later rushed to the high court praying for injunction.

His public interest litigation asked for temporary injunction to restrain the organisers from holding the mega-event, for which raves have already started arriving in the tourist state from all over the World. He also requested the court to order demolition of illegal structures.

Acquiring the hill top as well as the land along the beachside, the organisers have cut the seaside cliffs within 200 metres of the high tide line, blocked the traditional pathways, fenced off parts of the beach, cut few trees and levelled the sand dunes.

What is built there is a heaven on the earth, claim the organisers. It consists of a multi-level dance floor coming right down to the beach, which will feature non-stop 24-hour music all 10 days and nights, including live acts.

A 'Hilltop Accommodation Area' has been provided with around 400 fully-equipped tents while also erecting a flea market with over 350 stalls, which would remain open for 24 hours. A 'Growth and Healing Centre' with all kinds of esoteric treatment and ayurvedic massages is also part of it.

An 'Entertainment Zone' offers adventure sports, tattoos and body painting, several restaurants and bars, a cyber café offering e-com, video conferencing and e-mail services, sports facilities including bungee jumping and even a children's play area.

"Paradiso de Anjuna has been now dramatically expanded – you won't recognise it anymore – it now includes over 100 acres", says their website very proudly. "But we have never allowed them to expand it", says S S Keshkamat, the tourism director.

On the contrary, the tourism ministry has now instructed the police department to engage trained experts to monitor all such INTERNET websites and stop all events related to Goa Trance, Goa Techno and acid rock parties.

The officials have also identified similar kind of another non-stop bash at Vagator beach, which would continue for four days from 30 December onwards. "There will be many parties around the millennium, but we gonna do one at the place, where parties began decades ago", says another website advertising the event.

"We will come down heavily on drug peddlers as well as the addicts", chief minister Francisco Sardinha had told the journalists a few days ago. But his volte face and ordering to stop demolition has raised suspicion while Nash Wadia, Jeh's brother, was seen frantically trying to contact Sardinha after the demolition began.

Neither the police nor the collectorate have however permitted even use of music system for the Anjuna millennium bash. "We will confiscate the music system if they go ahead with the event", says firmly Sanjeev Khirwar, the North Goa district collector.

Though authorities appear to be playing safe after the issue became public, at least three such one-day events have taken place in the past since November, where the police had remained mute spectator.

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